JK Rowling Debate Broke BBC Rules After Author Was Accused Of Being Nasty Transphobe

The BBC has said that a radio debate about JK Rowling broke editorial rules after a presenter failed to properly challenge claims that the Harry Potter author is transphobic.

During a feature on Radio 4’s PM show in February, host Evan Davis allowed Stacey Henley, a transgender woman, to criticize Rowling’s “nasty views” during a discussion about video game Hogwarts Legacy.

Henley, editor-in-chief of The Gamer, accused the author of pushing “transphobia” and said she was active in campaigning “against trans people.”

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Davis said Rowling “wouldn’t say she’s transphobic,” but this attempt to balance the conversation did not come until minutes after Henley’s initial comments. The BBC received 199 complaints about the exchange.

In a ruling on Thursday, the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) said the radio show “did not meet the BBC’s editorial standards of impartiality.” The ECU considered the matter resolved, however, as the BBC and Davis had already publicly acknowledged the Rowling debate’s shortcomings.

The BBC said in February: “We do accept that there wasn’t sufficient challenge to the claims that were made and that we fell short here. This is a difficult and contentious area which we do try very hard to cover fairly and well on the BBC. However we should have challenged Stacey Henley more directly on her claims and apologise that we did not.”

Davis also said that criticism from listeners was fair. “I think perhaps we got stuck because we were actually trying hard NOT to debate @jk_rowling or the substance of her views. We hadn’t intended or cast it that way,” he tweeted.

Rowling’s views on transgender issues have drawn widespread criticism over the years, including from some of the Harry Potter film franchise’s biggest stars.

She was announced on Wednesday as an Executive Producer on a Harry Potter television series for Max, Warner Bros. Discovery’s new streaming service. Casey Bloys, Chairman and CEO of HBO and Max Content, dodged questions about Rowling.

“That’s a very online conversation, obviously very nuanced and complicated, and not something we’re going to get into,” he said. “The Harry Potter story is incredibly affirmative and positive and about love and self-acceptance. That’s our priority — what’s on screen.”

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